Edgefield County As It Happens
Edgefield County, South Carolina

Edgefield County, South Carolina

April 6, 2005

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A Tax by any other name is still a Tax

web posted April 6, 2005
Editorial Staff

Council says: “An Ordinance to Establish a Fifteen-Dollar Per Vehicle Road Maintenance Fee on All Motorized Vehicles Registered in EC, to provide for the collection and Expenditure of Revenue from Said Fee, and for other Matters Relating Thereto.”

People say: Raise your taxes and spend it on whatever they want. The people, and Councilman Norman Dorn, are right. The Edgefield County Council has passed a first reading on an ordinance to create a new tax on every single registered “motor vehicle” in Edgefield County.

Councilman Norman Dorn made it glaringly clear he was apposed to a new “tax”, or what council has worded as a “fee,” on vehicles. Dorn pointed out how taxing 2/3 of the people for something 100% use, roads, is dead wrong. He’s right, on more counts than he knows.

Other councilmen noted how some in Merriwether, who have a North Augusta address, use that to register their cars in Aiken County. Another noted how some have their cars and trucks registered in North Carolina. A majority asked how “fair” it would be to tax only the law abiding citizens and not everyone.

Well, we take that a bit further. Not only do county residents use our roads, a vast majority of road damage comes from heavy equipment and large transport trucks not “cars and trucks”. However, the ones who cause the least damage to our roads are being forced to pay for the majority’s use. The ones doing the most damage, transport trucks, are not being taxed at all in our county.

Edgefield County happens to be in the main path of Augusta’s gravel quarries and Anderson. One of the main travel paths has had to be resurfaced due to pavement “sliding” due to these trucks. A cost a company making money is not required accounting for, only those “honest citizens” are to be fined for their abuse of our roads.

Councilman Dorn points out that a full 1/3 of citizens do not own cars. We find that a bit hard to believe. We tend to agree with Councilman Hudson and Kitchens who claim they “know” a number of people who do not register their cars in our county to avoid the highest tax rate in the state they impose. The new proposal will just make sure Edgefield County remains the highest tax rate in the state for years to come.

At least Councilman Dorn is willing to admit the “fee” is a tax. Perhaps council is just a bit too scared to raise taxes so they create “fees”, which is another word for tax, and claim “taxes” are stable. Mismanagement in Columbia County, who proponents of “growth” in our county always refer to as an example, created their “fee” for rainwater that continues to spread and is in many legal battles because of it’s “unfair” distribution of taxes due to another’s actions. In their case it is developers, in ours its transportation.

This tax, with no end in sight, provides an incentive for the county to find newer and better ways to “fee” taxes and claim it’s just a small amount. Fifteen dollars for your car sounds “reasonable”. Many, however, own two or more vehicles. Not to mention boats and other “motorized vehicles” registered.

The tax is a bad idea. Edgefield County taxes are far too high as it is. If they weren’t, the many our very own councilmen admit they “know” break the law to escape the extreme taxes would not be doing so and face penalties. The problem is not the people not paying their “fair share” of taxes, it’s the total mismanagement of the administration of this county and the revenues collected forcing people to seek protection, even outside of the law. How sad.

Perhaps council needs to reassess the head of our county administration if it can’t control exploding expenditures. Taxes, on average for our staff, have risen from an average of $680 in 1999 to $1400 for the same home in 2004. That’s doubling the taxes in just five years.  Yet council can always find several tens of thousands, and in some cases millions, to provide for fly by night schemes that never pay off. Well, not for the taxpayer at least.

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